England play only Australia during the second half of a lopsided summer, with the first of five one-day internationals played at Edgbaston today, followed by the Ashes series.
With the score 1-1 in this triangular tournament, several psychological advantage factors can be seized, even though the first day of the Lord's Test will go a long way towards setting a pattern for that first contest and, probably, the next four Tests.
Selection today will be the first statement of intent, because both sides will pick their strongest team. The Michael Vaughan groin strain has already ruled him out of two matches since he did it a week ago and it would be foolish to gamble if there is the slightest risk of a recurrence.
One-day cricket is not the place to "get by" because of the frentic approach often needed in batting, and always demanded in the field,
If he does play, Vikram Solanki will drop out and, with nine other places automatic picks, it leaves the fourth fast bowler to be argued over. The final choice will be a big pointer towards the first Test.
When Simon Jones left the squad, Chris Tremlett was brought in. But, since his debut, he has played in all three matches - the last one on Sunday at the expense of Jonathan Lewis. Rarely does a replacement nose out an original selection when everyone is fit.
Today, it is not just a question of Tremlett or Lewis but Jones is also in the mix after a variable match against Bangladesh in which he started with four consecutive wides.
Having learned how best to swing the ball away from the right-hander, he has still to master the different angle needed to trouble the lefthanders in the same way that Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee have troubled Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss.
Put simply, Jones has a directional corridor of more than a foot wide against the right-hander - from roughly middle and off out towards the off side. If he does that against the lefties, those four consecutive leg-side wides on Sunday are an inevitable consequence. But, if he shifts direction more than three or four inches towards off stump, the ball will not swing back. Therein lies his problem.
Tremlett has experienced the odd inconsistency in his three matches but thinks on his feet and adapts accordingly. His natural steepling bounce is a handful for any batsman and he deserves to play today. If he does, however the selectors might play down the significance of such a move, he has already pushed his way into the queue for the Ashes series.
Lee's extra pace provides an extra dimension for Ricky Ponting and it is difficult to believe he has not played in a Test match for more than 12 months.
That is because of the consistent form of Jason Gillespie and Mike Kasprowicz but both are of a similar pace to McGrath and there are signs that both cannot play in the same side.
If the white ball swings today Strauss has to show that he can cope with the inswinger which also denies him the room for his great strengths square of the wicket on either side. He won't be the first batsman to have to work out fresh lines of attack at the top level but his dramatic first 12 months in Test cricket have shown he possesses a level-headed temperament as well as a tried and trusted technique. Pace bowling from around the wicket cramps him and he got out a couple of times in South Africa once the opposition twigged.
Trescothick's problems against the Australians are more the ball leaving him and McGrath will probe away for the rest of the summer.
Both camps seem keen to try the ICC experimental changes in the 50-over format in the three-match series next week. These are to play 12-aside cricket with only 11 on the field. Namely, a captain declares his team plus a nominated extra player before the toss.
He can then replace any player with the 12th man at any time. The replaced cricketer may not return, even if another player is injured, and the substitute can bat and bowl any of the ten-over ration not bowled by the man called off.
The fielding restrictions decree that the present 15-over mandatory field placements of nine in the ring be changed to one block of ten and two separate chunks of five whenever the fielding captain wants.
These trial changes come into use on July 30, and the main problems with them being used next week is for each ground to work out how best to communicate them to a public that only just about understands the present format.
Forecast for today? The side winning the toss will bat and, if that is Australia, the visitors to take a 2-1 lead into Saturday's final.